A weekend enjoying a Spanish island

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After zipping back from work meetings in New York City, The Girl and I caught a flight down to Palma de Mallorca (a Spanish island), via Barcelona.  They are two relatively quick flights from Paris.  The first about 80 minutes, and the second about 30 minutes.  Though on the way home it’s a nice nonstop flight straight into Paris Orly (the smaller airport closer to the city).  The island is technically Mallorca, with Palma de Mallorca being the main city.

We had decided a few weeks ago to try and fit in a long weekend trip before it gets pretty busy around our place for the next 4-6 weeks.  We were roughly aiming for a beach, and did some looking down along the French coast, then the Spanish coast, and even some other islands like Corsica and Ibiza.  But ultimately, the cheap 209€ airfare round trip to Palma Mallorca seemed like the best deal.  You really can’t even beat that on the TGV train down to Nice or elsewhere.  Plus, we like quiet places.

Especially ones with bikes:

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Our hotel is set up in farmland about 3 miles from the sea.  The grounds used to be an old monastery/church, but have since been converted into the hotel.  They’ve done an incredible job thus far.

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Most interestingly however is how much this entire area (hotel included) caters to cyclists.  Every couple of kilometers there are large maps with detailed cycling routes, and distances for each of the routes from that given point.

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Many hotels (including ours) had various signage welcoming cyclists in.  The hotel itself has bicycles available to go wander with.  And can also upon request arrange performance road bikes too.

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Which, is exactly what we did on Saturday (not the performance bikes, but the cruisers).  With the sea just a few miles away, we figured it’d be much easier to just bike down there.  Thus we packed up a couple of towels and headed on out.

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We stopped at a grocery store along the way (well, the only store we could find actually).  They had a vast selection of items, but I got caught up in the various hams.  But ultimately I decided that having a leg of pig sticking out of my bike basket might be a bit over the top.

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Also of note, juice-box containers of wine.  Straw does not appear to be included.

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After leaving the store with sandwich making supplies, we descended down an incredibly steep road to the water.  I really wish this photo did it justice, if only to serve as a statement on how darn steep it was going back up.

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Keeping in mind that when going up, light road bikes these were not.  Our beastly bikes probably weighed in at close to, or exceeding 50 pounds (22kg+).  I’d guess the incline was around 13-18%.  Certainly steeper than any portion on the climb up Mount Ventoux, which I think the max there was 14%.  I was pretty much just going walking speed while riding on the way back up…in the easiest gear possible.

At any rate, we found our way down to the water.

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There’s some sort of seaside club down there, but instead we just made our way down along the rocks like many others.

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From there, we setup camp and relaxed for a good 5-6 hours.

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We were somewhat stationed in between the beach club (across a little cove), and the rest of the cliff area.  Which provided an endless stream of occupants from both sides.  We noted that the only differentiator tended to be clothing.  Those on the beach club side kept their bottoms on, while those on the opposite side went with the full-Monty experience.  Tops were largely optional, as tends to be consistent across much of Europe.

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The water itself was rather chilly, though once you were in it for a couple minutes things were all good again.  We didn’t notice until on our way out, but apparently hammer-head sharks visit the area.

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After our time down there, we made our way back up the hill and headed back to the hotel.

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By time the ride was over, we were pretty jazzed to find an empty pool to cannonball into.

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Sunday we had planned to take the hotel’s free shuttle bus to an actual beach (one with sand, versus the DIY cliffs we went to on Saturday) – but apparently the bus doesn’t run on Sundays.  So instead we just hung out at the pool most of the day.

Now logically you’d probably run pre-pool.  But logical this was not.  So post-pool we headed out on an hour long run.  My route would take me wandering across the farmlands on relatively small country roads.

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At least I brought a water bottle:

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I believe much of the orchards in the area were olive trees, though they lacked anything on them at this point in the year.

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It was interesting that despite this being roughly in the middle of nowhere, virtually every farm had put in place large metal fences above the stone walls.  Even farms which had nothing but dirt or otherwise barren/brush lands behind the wall.

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Eventually I ran into a highway, and figured that made a good turnaround point.

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By time I got back, I was pretty well done from a running standpoint, given the sun.  Ended up just a bit short of 9 miles.

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Another runner (likely a triathlete given his clothing selections) was finishing up at the same time, though he came from the opposite direction.

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Following a bit of core work in the gym, we headed outside to play a bit of tennis.  Thankfully the sun was being blocked by some clouds, so it was actually pretty nice (it was about 7PM or so by then).

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And after all that was said and done, it was finally time to get cleaned up and enjoy a nice relaxing multi-hour dinner.  Gotta love sunset here being beyond 10PMish (not quite as late as in Paris though).

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With that, time for another day in the sun before heading back home.  Tomorrow, the beach!

27 Comments

  1. oldSAP

    beeeeaauuuutttiiifffuuullllll!!!!

    Reply
  2. Adam Peterson

    me parece una buena fin de semana. Que buena idea me has dado por la próxima vez me encontre en España!

    Reply
  3. Chris Thompson

    That area looks fantastic. Question: Are you needing to use European languages to get by on these trips? Or, is English with some high school French / Spanish sufficient? I would love to travel when my son gets older. I'm wondering if I should be investing in language classes now.

    Reply
    • Peter replied

      I do not want to start a war, but I hope you do realise, that English is actually a European language ;) But on the more serious side, anywhere on Mallorca, or any larger holiday destination (or basically any larger city, definitely on the Western/Northern part, or anywhere among the younger generation) in Europe, you will be perfectly fine with just English. French people might tend to be a bit difficult (by actually understanding you, but replying in French...), but maybe Ray can tell you more about that :)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Peter pretty much nailed it.

      I speak, in order of functionality: English, Japanese, French.

      Anything outside of that and I'm back in English. With the exception of Xi'an, China, I've yet to find a place on this earth that you can't 'get by' with English and some amount of charades. And in the case of Xi'an China, an iPhone with Chinese characters displayed worked. :)

      Reply
  4. Hey, Can I ask a bit more about where you stayed? It looks awesome and gorgeous weather to go with!

    You see, my boyfriend is a total cycling nut and I am trying to convince him to go somewhere sunny on hols - this place seems like an ideal compromise! Was it the whole island that was complete with cycling maps/bike hire etc or was that just the specific place you stayed? Any advice very welcome!!

    Thanks :)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Claire-

      We stayed at the Hilton Sa Torree here: link to www3.hilton.com

      We had planned to use points, but ultimately got a pretty cheap last minute rate that it made point usage silly. It's a really nice quiet place though (the resort). As for as cycling goes, it's at least this whole section of the island, but as others have noted, it covers quite a bit.

      The sandy beach today was alright, not great, but OK. They have two pools a the hotel though - an adult-only pool and a kid pool, pretty much identical, what you see in the pics.

      So from that standpoint, you could let him go and enjoy cycling all day, and you enjoy the pool/grounds.

      Reply
  5. RunningJunkie.Net

    Really nice to see your holiday snaps. Beautiful island. Sounds like a really nice break.

    There is also a ultra trail race here that takes place every year. A clubmate has done it and highly recommends it. link to ultramallorca.com

    Reply
  6. Nice report!

    You guys haven't even scratched the surface of the cycling experience in Mallorca yet. This is THE goto place for the top European pro cycling teams for winter training because of the contrasting terrain (mountains in the north and plains to the south) and the cycling friendly roads and road users.

    The ultimate day trip has got to be the ride down into and up out of Sa Calobra, a small village on the north coast. The one road into and out of the village has 26 hairpin bends in 10 kilometres including a 270 degree hairpin that has to be seen to be believed. You'll want to be riding lightweight road bikes for this one!

    Former pro riders Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche both have holiday companies on the island offering a complete cycling experience including accommodation, bicycles and rides for all abilities led by ride captains. They typically operate two seasons, February to May and September / October as these are the best months for riding in moderate temperatures.

    The only caveat I would add is avoid Magaluf on the coast, unless you're into 24 hour partying and binge drinking.

    Reply
    • cycloscott replied

      Concur. I've taken a couple of cycling trips to Mallorca and the riding is fantastic. Although I'm partial to the roads on the north western side of the island. The stretch between Valldemosa and Andratx is absolutely spectacular.

      Reply
  7. Daniel

    Hey, I saw this place on my recent trip down there (race bike training camp). Thanks for the fresh up. The road where it's placed is called "piggy road" :-)

    Reply
  8. Jerome

    Not too windy? I was this winter not so far as your hotel, in s'arenal. It was wel cooler :D I'haven't really enjoy to training in the wind. But I love the old city of Palma and the northern part of this island! So Beautiful <3

    Reply
  9. Amedeo

    and so you are tennis players too???????

    ....or are you training for joining to the next French Open (Roland Garros)?

    anyway, nice place!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nah, I'm just using the occasional tennis game to improve my beer pong skills.

      Reply
  10. Amy

    omg--that looked/sounded like a weekend in paradise! and grass tennis courts, too! although I suppose grass courts are fairly common in Europe. you two have created a very lovely life for yourselves :)

    Reply
  11. Chris Thompson

    @Peter: Thanks. I know the British are sometimes on the fence as to whether they are European or not. :)

    Reply
  12. Brett

    Nice write up about Palma de Mallaorca island. This reminded me of the time a friend and I backpacked through there way back in the 1990. Hope to go back and visit again someday and maybe do some biking this time.

    Reply
  13. Monica

    How beautiful! It's great that you both are so into doing active things together-and you look so cute together!

    Reply
  14. Rick Harker

    I looked at the date to verify the summer period but the place looks deserted.
    In one way good.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Most of the resort photos I took later in the day when folks were back in the room. During the day (like Sunday), it was busy, but not crowded. Sorta a pleasant busy. I'd guess perhaps 20-30% occupancy.

      Reply
  15. RV

    Very very nice place. Must have been an enjoying weekend.
    I understand the use of hub gears because of maintenance, it seemed that luckily they were not fitted with suicidal roller-brakes (overheating in descents). But for driving back up the only hubs that might work are a Rohloff or Alfine-11.

    Reply
  16. wachsi

    Mallorca is not only "THE goto place for the top European pro cycling teams" for winter training, there are a lot of Triathlon Camps too.

    Reply
  17. kip

    Hi Ray

    I nearly crossed with you as I did 2 weeks in Mallorca just before you went out there - was thinking of you and whether you'd been out there while I was there. The North East of the island is a lot more Cycle/Tri-centric, and you'll find many of the pro teams training out there from Feb through to May (before it gets hot). Wiggo's old Pinarello from the TDF is on display in one of the bars in puerto pollenca, and lots of the cycling holidays are based around pollenca, Puerto Pollenca and Alcudia. Take a look at link to tricamp.co.uk; too, based in Pollenca.

    I was out harassing the roadies on a city bike towing a toddler in a trailer, but did manage to get out on a 'proper' bike for a couple of days - again the 'proper' hire places tend to be in the locations i mentioned above. If you do go back and need some routes let me know and I'll get hold of some...

    Kip

    Reply
  18. Maria

    Awesome!

    Reply
  19. dECEIT70

    Nice! I'd love to go there myself some day...

    And true: most french people speak only french the same way most american people speak only american english... Because they think their mother language is THE universal language...
    Only, we are wrong ;-)

    Reply
  20. Nice report of my favorite island. Two or three times a year we are cycling there, with our own bikes but also with our wifes on normal touring bikes. Small Country streets, less traffic, great nature, mountains are always in reach and we love the option to have a swim or a "cafe con leche" whenever you want .
    If you are interested have a look on my video from 2012 (40 Minutes with cycling on Mallorca) link to youtube.com

    Reply
  21. Chris

    Hey Ray!
    You should definitely come to Mallorca around march. It's funny to see all the biker doing their climb at around 10:30am from Palma up to the hilton - kilometers along just biker.
    Especially the town Petra is a Mekka, and you'll love the fresh orange slices you get served when it's hot.

    On the spanish mainland you can also try Costa Daurada, but Mallorca tends to be more stable when it comes to weather (except this year when we had snow on Pug Major).

    Also nice 70.3 in may ;)

    Reply

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